How old were you when you first picked up a camera?
I took photos on and off throughout my childhood. The first camera that was *mine* was a Polaroid One from my mom during the early 2000s and it’s still the main Polaroid I use. I took very bad pre-teen selfies and photos of dirt (I literally have Polaroids of bags of potting soil)… My first “real” foray into music photography was at Hangout Festival 2012 when I threw a point-and-shoot into my bag and snapped throughout the weekend. The shots I got of Cage The Elephant’s vocalist crowd surfing were the ones that made me think, “Wow, I need to do more of this!”
What drew you into the world of live music photography?
The aforementioned festival! After that fateful weekend, I brought cameras to shows when I could and took enough decent shots that the local iHeartRadio rock station started giving me photo passes in exchange for online photo galleries. I definitely found a style and a rhythm shooting those radio rock shows in college.
Is there one show you shot that’s defined your style to date?
The first time I took a black and white, high contrast photo with a silhouette was at a Trivium show in 2016. I had dabbled in B&W before then, but that was the night I decided to pretty much exclusively start shooting and editing in a specific way. It matched the mood and how I felt and I thought the style was “me.”
Do you have a favorite band to shoot, and why?
I have to say Thou since I’ve lost count of the Google Drive folders I have of their shows. Living in New Orleans for the last 5 years, I’ve had a plethora of opportunities to see them, along with the fact that I usually shoot at least one summer festival they happen to play. They always do something goofy that makes for great photos. The set I have from their skatepark show at Roadburn 2019 has some of the best photos I’ve ever taken and they completely capture the mood of everyone in attendance.
How do you capture the emotion and energy of the band and the audience?
Just do it. As corny as that sounds, I don’t really think about anything other than lighting and who happens to look “cool” at the moment when I shoot shows. If someone catches my eye, I take a photo. I used to take TONS of pictures, but I think trying to be more selective has made me look for special moments and try harder at creating one great thing instead of 50 alright ones.
How important is the venue for your photos? What’s your favorite venue to shoot bands at?
If I’m allowed to or wanting to use flash, the venue doesn’t matter. Without that, though, venues with good lighting are always better than ones without. Most of my photos recently were taken at Santos in New Orleans. It’s small and *sometimes* has good lighting and fog. I don’t know that I prefer one venue over another at the end of the day. To me, it’s more about the crowd’s energy, lighting and what the band does with the space.
Before Isolation, do you think that you took going to shows for granted?
C o m p l e t e l y. I doubt too many weeks went by where I didn’t go to at *least* one show. I didn’t realize how much my social life completely relied on seeing music and how the process of taking, editing and posting photos brought me so much joy and confidence. The last show I attended and documented was Foie Gras, The Body, Uniform and Thou and it seems like an eternity ago.
When shows do come back, do you feel that concert photography will change?
I’m not sure. I think all of the photographers are going to be rabid to see and shoot everything possible since we’ve all had such a long dry spell. Apart from a few extra bodies, I think we’re all just picking up where we left off.
Where are you pointing your camera these days?
The only people I’ve photographed in over a year are my friends while we’re on rock climbing trips. I have had a few business shoots for my “real” job, but haven’t felt creative or in my element since shows stopped.
Have you found another creative outlet during isolation?
I’ve been teaching myself and learning graphic and web design from a coworker, so I suppose that’s taking some of my creativity. I think I was close to burnout when Covid hit, so it might have worked out for the best that I’ve had a long break to learn to love what I do once again.
Could you share three photos that mean the world to you and the story behind them?
-Silver Godling, 2019
My friend Emily McWilliams (of Silver Godling and Thou) asked me to collaborate on the art for her album, Ravel. We spent hours in the swamp and on roadsides being eaten alive by mosquitoes–this shot was taken in Port Sulphur, LA under a willow tree. The entire project was a dream and I felt so inspired by her to step outside of my comfort zone and try new things. From using prisms to trying my hand at digital collaging, the process was both exploratory and nostalgic, since I hadn’t ventured outside of stark black and white in so long.
-Thou at the Skatepark, Roadburn 2019
Thou covering Misfits draws a crowd. I was standing on a skate ramp, which was precarious, and shooting from behind a stack of speakers while the Roadburners went WILD. Nate from Converge, Adan from Gilead Media, Emma Ruth Rundle and more hopped on stage for guest vocals. It was electric. I wish every show was exactly like it.
-Power Trip at in Pensacola, 2017
THE SLAYER HAT. Let’s see… In 2017, after this show, I DMed Riley and asked if I could snap some quick portraits. He said yes and rallied the troops for a Polaroid. I saw them every chance possible after that, including a very odd SXSW set sponsored by Mike’s Hard Lemonade. In late 2019 I was trying to shoot Evil Beat and DMed him again. As if we were friends, he immediately told me to email his publicist and to tell her he said it was “all good.” I couldn’t believe how nice and trusting he was after only brief interactions over the years. I had to include this comment because it still makes me laugh: